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Camp Kitchen Essentials For Car Camping

September 10, 2018

Camp Kitchen Essentials For Car Camping

By Mychaela Nickoloff

Walk into any outdoor retailer and you’ll find a plethora of camp cooking supplies. It can be difficult to decide what is necessary when you can now pack everything— plus a kitchen sink. Truly, all you need to make a meal is fire and some ingredients. But, for my fellow foodies, that can be limiting when trying to make a healthy dinner for the family. In order to make cooking outdoors easy and delicious, we recommend bringing the following camp kitchen essentials. 

Cooking Stove

When choosing a camping stove, the most important aspect to consider is how many you plan to cook for. Lightweight options that are cheaper are great for 1-2 people, while larger grills or double burners are made for cooking for a crew, although these will be more expensive and take up more space. Make sure to check that your stove works before you leave.

Propane Tank

Having a reserve propane tank for your camp stove on hand is a must. Nothing is worse than having to eat half cooked noodles when you run out of fuel. Also make sure that the fuel you're using is compatible with your stove, since stoves are often compatible with certain types of tanks.


For spaghetti, rice, or soup—you’ll need a good pot. Make sure it is compatible to your camping stove. For sautéing meats or scrambling eggs, you’ll want a frying pan that has an etched non-stick surface for easier clean-up. 

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

So, this one is not necessarily an essential item, but they are incredibly nice to have. You can throw them straight onto the coals of a fire to cook up an awesome one-pot dish. You can even bake amazing desserts with these. They are durable and will last you forever as long as you continue proper maintenance of the dish.

Camping Cooking Gear

Metal Tongs

From flipping meat to sautéing veggies to serving up hot pasta—metal tongs can do it all. It is the cooking utensil with the most utility.

Cutting Board and Knife

Dicing an onion or cutting meat into easy to serve strips is a lot better with a small cutting board and knife.

Plates and Bowls

Paper plates are often the best options for serving food, as they reduce the need for doing dishes and pack down small. Having a larger bowl for salads and serving is also helpful.


Whether you use sporks, plastic cutlery, or a metal flatware set be sure to pack enough utensils for each person in your group.


Travel size jars of seasonings you use the most are great to always have on hand. I always have salt, pepper, and olive oil in small containers that I keep in an old toiletries bag. Garlic salt is also incredibly versatile!


Stock a cooler with plenty of ice to keep perishables and drinks fresh and cold. Before leaving, freeze bottled water to use as ice-packs.

Trash Bags

Don’t forget to pack everything out! No one likes pulling up to a campsite and finding trash.

Paper Towels

Part of cooking is cleaning up. Paper towels are a great tool to use and easier than bringing kitchen towels. They also work as tinder for lighting a campfire.

Hand Sanitizer

Washing your hands before cooking a meal can sometimes be difficult while outdoors. Either the sinks are far away or there aren’t any at all.

Biodegradable Dish Soap

Clean and put away dirty dishes before hitting the hay. The leftover food scraps attract unwanted critters to camp.  

Receptacle for Dishwashing

Designate a bucket or use a collapsible bag to catch gray water (dirty water) as you wash your dishes. Gray water needs to be disposed of away from your camp and/or in a designated area.


Having some extras like aluminum foil, plastic bags, cheese grater and cork screw will also come in handy. 

Pro Tip: I keep my camp kitchen organized in a large storage container and separate from other camping gear. It’s easy to toss in the trunk when heading out already knowing I have everything. The organization gives you the same ease of cooking in your home kitchen and knowing where each pot and cooking utensil lies.

Camp Kitchen Checklist

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